In India, the New Year will occur after sunrise on the 28th, so Wednesday, March 29 (ruled by Mercury) will be the day celebrating the Vedic New Year, and Mercury will be the lord of the year in India. The beginning of the Vedic New Year also marks Vasant Navratri, the nine-night spring festival of Mother Divine when Devi Durga comes down to bless the world and her children at the beginning of the New Year.
We’ve just come through the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere where I live, which marks the time of year when Mother Nature rebalances and begins to awaken herself. Spring is also the time of year when we take an especially deep breath and renew our commitment to awakening ourselves, perhaps with a focus on improving health and well-being. According to Chinese Five Element theory, Wood is the element of spring. It represents new growth and an expansive sense of renewal, the birth of upward moving Yang energy that propels us forward with new vision, hope and determination. The organs of the body associated with the Wood element are the liver, gallbladder, eyes, tendons and ligaments. The liver governs planning, and the gallbladder relates to decision making, so in this season, it is only natural to initiate new beginnings and plan for future activities.
The positive emotions of Wood are kindness, forgiveness, generosity and compassion; the negative emotions are inflexibility, indecision, anger and disappointment. Feng Shui sometimes correlates the Wood element with the Throat Chakra, which governs our will and self-expression. This time of year especially, it is important to honor and express all our feelings, especially those of resentment or frustration, in order to help us release the past and move forward with a light and clear perspective.
According to Ayurveda, the winter kapha season (water) is now slowly giving way to spring vata season (air). According to Polarity Therapy, the negative pole of the water element is in the feet, and negative pole of the air element is in the ankles, and the energy in these areas has a tendency to be quite congested now. For a smooth transition in this season, I highly recommend foot and ankle exercises and body work/massage etc.
To harmonize with the changing energies of spring, we should take brisk walks in the fresh air to open the lung meridian and disperse the tight and stiff “Woody” energy in our tendons and ligaments. If you have a yoga practice, focus on inversions, twists, forward bends and backbends to tonify the liver and gallbladder. A balanced spring detoxification program to cleanse the liver and gallbladder is also important. Clear away clutter in your home and office to create space for new energies to emerge. As Water is the supporting element of Wood, make sure to drink enough H2O.
Astrologer, Teacher and Healer
Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer
As cosmetic surgery becomes more prevalent, it becomes increasingly important to question its role in achieving beauty and health goals. There are some things that only plastic surgery can accomplish. No number of downward dogs will make your nose smaller or correct your crow's feet. But aging gracefully should also be celebrated. It's important to find a balance between achieving your beauty goals and loving yourself for who you are.
Practitioners of yoga look to their teachers to provide spiritual, mental, and physical guidance. But what if your teacher has augmented their body with plastic surgery? These augmentations can range from cellulite removal to breast implants to butt lifts. Regardless of the type of surgery, however, they all have one thing in common: they seem antithetical to the practice of yoga.
The Mind Body Connection
Yoga is more than a physical exercise. It has a number of benefits, ranging from relieving anxiety to improving self-confidence. In an interview, Morgan DeYoung, also known as the Southern Yogi, admits that she's considered plastic surgery. Yoga often forces practitioners to confront their darkest emotions and insecurities, but it can also provide them with a fulfilling emotional outlet. According to DeYoung, she decided against rhinoplasty surgery because she feels that her nose represents the journey that she's been on in life. Yoga can help people achieve greater self-knowledge, transforming perceived flaws into a facet of their individual journey.
Yoga and Age
Yoga may not offer the immediate results of cosmetic surgery, but it provides practitioners with a number of anti-aging benefits. For example, it helps increase flexibility. As bodies age, joints and muscles stiffen and become less pliant. In time, this leads to decreased mobility and other health concerns. When people practice yoga, however, the spine is elongated. The vertebrae are stretched in a healthy and beneficial manner. This enhances nerve conduction and prevents the spinal shortening that comes with age.
If you practice yoga regularly, you've probably noticed that it enhances your sense of wellbeing. Yoga focuses on breathing, making each practitioner concentrate on the simple in and out of their breath. In time, the capacity of the lungs increase, and we bring in more of the life force that surrounds us constantly. This provides much needed energy to our cells, giving us the oomph we need to combat aging. Proper breathing technique can also lower blood pressure and improve digestion.
Yoga has the power to enhance our strength, balance, flexibility, and overall quality of life. It has the power to feel at peace in our own skin. And if you feel at peace, the desire for cosmetic surgery might just go away.
laṅghana – लङ्घन / bṛṃhaṇa – बृंहण
The effects of asana and pranayama can be classified into two categories, known as langhana, “reducing,” and brumhana, “nourishing.” These concepts are very similar to the Chinese concepts of yin and yang.
Langhana means “to fast” or reduce, and is very similar to the concept of yang in traditional Chinese medicine. In reference to asana practice, it refers to the more energizing postures, which stimulate the metabolism and energize the nervous system, and balance tamas. These postures are warming to the body and activating for the mind.
Brmhana means “to expand” and is very similar to the concept of yin in traditional Chinese medicine. In reference to asana practice, it refers to the more relaxing postures, which slow down the metabolism, heart rate, respiration rate, relax the nervous system, and balance rajas. These postures are cooling to the body and calming the mind.
laṅghana: “to fast, reduce”
constrictive, solar/yang, shiva/masculine, exhalation, heating, detoxifying & reducing, vata & pitta qualities, backward bending
bṛṃhaṇa: “to expand”
expansive, lunar/yin, shakti/feminine, inhalation, cooling, nurturing & tonifying, kapha qualities, forward bending
Written by Debby Andersen
Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer
Back in the 1960s, when yoga first hit American shores, the media branded it as a "hippie" thing, connected with the counterculture, rock music, and teenagers.
Now it is comfortably entrenched in the mainstream, the yoga industry rakes in $27 billion per year. More people attend classes, buy books, magazines and DVDS, and sport yoga apparel than ever.
Along with high-profile gurus, instructors and apparel companies, yoga now has a slew of Instagram stars and influencers. These include teachers and self-styled yoga gurus who demonstrate poses on the Internet. While video instruction has been a regular feature of social media since the advent of the medium, teachers as yoga influencers now have a big say in promoting certain apparel or merchandise brands.
Rise in Injuries
The New York Times has noticed another social media trend – yoga "show-offs." A recent article examined the proliferation of students practicing too many repetitions of advanced handstands – and photographing them. This trend has sent many people to emergency rooms with wrist sprains, tendonitis, or serious muscle tears.
You'd think there's an ongoing competition for the most complicated posture, sexiest yoga pose or the weirdest place you've done yoga after perusing Instagram and Facebook posts. The posts are often posted by students who are proud of what they've accomplished, but photos of some yoga practitioners exhibit more "poseur" than "pose."
Yoga isn’t a Competition
The purpose of yoga is to help people get fit and healthy and feel balanced on an emotional, mental and spiritual level, like many forms of physical fitness. Yoga is a personal journey and not a competition. There aren't any medals for Best Rishi's Posture or Headstand in the Olympics yet.
Maybe we should look at the Instagrammers who give the impression they are only in it for being credited as performance artists who use yoga. Think of it as an alternate use of yoga. Or maybe this Instagram/yoga influencer trend is just that, a trend that will fade away just like shiny cargo pants or shrug sweaters.
Social media popularity has nothing do with our worth as a yoga student. We shouldn’t feel the need to be an Instagram star to feel we’ve learned something. Nor should we feel the need to share any photos of our yoga practice with the public at large.
We should use social media as a platform to share the positive aspects of yoga, encourage other students and trade tips. Like any other technology, it’s the way you use it that makes the difference.
Posted on November 26, 2016 by JulianaThe waning crescent Balsamic Moon is once again upon us. This phase covers about three-and-a-half days leading up to the New Moon, and belongs to the ancient “dark” goddess who takes us deep within ourselves for transformation and rejuvenation. Balsamic Moon is time for letting go, burning karma, and healing ourselves as we prepare for new beginnings at the culmination of New Moon, which occurs on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7:18:09 AM Eastern Time. This is the last waning Moon of the Dakshinayana, the waning cycle of the Sun which will end on the Winter Solstice (N. Hemisphere).
The November 29 New Moon will have the Sun-Moon conjoined at ~14 degrees Scorpio close to the fixed star Antares in the heart of the Scorpion and near the degree of the Saturn-Mars conjunction of last August 24, which fell on the heartland point of the US chart. Please refer back to my previous blog about this conjunction for more information.
Not only is this New Moon activating the Mars-Saturn-Antares conjunction of last August, but also the luminaries are in an exact T-square with the lunar nodes Rahu and Ketu (in the 4/10 axis of the USA chart); and the rising sign of the USA lunation chart is conjunct Antares and the Sun-Moon; and Saturn is the first planet to rise. Key expressions for all this now and through the next few weeks may include: intense emotional turmoil and trauma; political intrigue; cultural upheaval; war and terror; and other dangerous natural or man-made events.
In general, the New Moon in Scorpio tends to draw out shadow themes revolving around depression, fear, aggression, death, sexuality, rebirth, money, control and personal power. When not in harmony, Scorpio can be dogmatic, fundamentalist, rigid, stubborn, or narrow-minded. With Scorpio’s emphasis here, some will have a tendency to feel stuck, tight, or heavy in body and mind. It may be helpful at this time to focus on spirit, move our bodies, keep with a positive message, enjoy nature, and most importantly, laugh, be kind and soften our hearts.
The external world is an unstable place, seemingly more than ever lately, so keeping ourselves at peace and in balance becomes the biggest challenge. Knowing and understanding something of the astral energies at play can actually be quite supportive during such times, not as a predictor of bad things happening, but more as a reminder of where to align our attention. For instance, the current waning Moon moving into Scorpio can assist us to stand in divine light and call out the darkness of the world; and also, to go quietly within and examine what we fear the most, let go, and actively cultivate more joy, love, forgiveness, and peace.
This is even more important now as this Balsamic and New Moon phase mirrors the current waning phase of the Sun, occurring as we move toward the darkest day of the year on December 21 (Winter Solstice-N. Hemisphere), when it is natural to slow down and be more contemplative than usual. Remember, the waning Moon is fast losing its light, and the Sun is also losing light. The Sun and Moon represent our higher brain and chakra centers and all psychological, metabolic and physiological processes. So, the Sun-Moon diminishing cycles can reflect in weariness and emotional vulnerability. Therefore, introspection, awareness, and repose are of utmost importance during this period.
Beannacht / Blessing by John O’Donohue
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
It is no secret that stress is not good for our health. As we age, our bodies may be more negatively impacted by stress. As retirement looms you may be facing a significant drop in income, unless you have a stellar pension plan and plenty of savings. Financial stress is extremely common among older adults. Health issues can be another major source of stress. Aging bodies just don’t move as well as they did 20 years earlier. Decreased mobility can be scary. Immunity can be lowered, which makes the elderly more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Loneliness is another common cause of stress. If you are retired, you may have lost that connection you once had with co-workers. Keeping an active connection with colleagues, friends, and family takes effort. If the effort isn’t put forth, depression can set in. Depression is extremely stressful to manage.
Stress impacts seniors both physically and mentally. The physical manifestation is increased cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that kicks in when our bodies feel threatened. This is good unless there is too much cortisol from repeated stress. Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today says high cortisol is “public enemy #1”.
Symptoms of Stress
There are several ways to lessen stress for those 55 and older. Meditation and yoga are particularly beneficial. Both can be practiced either in a group setting or individually.
Meditation for Stress
There are different forms of meditation, such as Mindfulness, Zen, Transcendental, and Vedic. All forms are beneficial for people of all ages. CNN has reported on how meditation can slow aging. Seniors can benefit from guided meditation. Guided meditation is basically a practice with a teacher or an experienced guide. This is often practiced in a group setting. Seniors can especially benefit from group meditation. It is a calming, centering, and social way to practice.
Meditating for just 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon can relax your central nervous system and temper the cortisol surge. Meditation has been shown to improve digestion, aid in sleep, and enhance the natural healing properties of the immune system.
Yoga for Stress
Exercise is one of the best antidotes to stress. There is a powerful belief that healing occurs in the presence of movement. Seniors may not be physically capable of engaging in rigorous workouts. Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for seniors. Yoga can be as intense or as gentle as you want it to be. According to the popular website Daily Cup of Yoga, there are 5 basic types of yoga. You can choose which style best suits your abilities.
Taking a Hatha yoga class is a great place to start if you are a beginner. Hatha concentrates on basic yoga poses and relaxation techniques. It helps to improve breathing, posture, muscle tone, and it relieves stress. Chair yoga is designed for seniors with less mobility. It is a gentle practice designed to increase circulation and flexibility. It is also terrific for relieving stress. Yoga classes are wonderful venues for social interaction.
Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer
Gratitude and forgiveness are theoretically linked character strengths that tend to be studied in isolation from other strengths. We examined gratitude and forgiveness in the same sample using self and confidant reports to better understand how strengths converge and diverge with personality factors, emotional vulnerabilities, and positive psychological processes. Data suggest that gratitude and forgiveness uniquely relate to personality factors, emotional vulnerabilities, and positive psychological processes with forgiveness evidencing stronger relations than gratitude. Forgiveness also appears to be more robust than gratitude due to the unique effects of forgiveness diminishing correlations between gratitude and other variables. Confidant data demonstrated that strengths were observable by others and related to observer perceptions of well-being. Results are discussed with an emphasis on the benefits of studying character strength profiles
The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
What is Abhyanga?
In Sankrit, the ancient, vibrational, written and sometimes spoken language from India, abhy means to rub and anga means limb, so together they make up the word massage. Abyangha is an anointing of the body with warm oil often infused with healing herbs and balancing essential oils.
In the West we are beginning to catch on to the importance of massage from a wellness and preventative health standpoint.
In Ayurveda the healing aspects of Abyangha include relaxation of the muscles and calming of the nervous system as well as attention being paid to many subtle healing aspects that make it a holistic healing modality.
The act of anointing the body with warm, herbal oil is called snehana. The Sanskrit word sneha means oil and love. The benefits of regular snehana invite the same qualities as being deeply loved, loving yourself and loving another: strength, stability, openness and warmth.
In the Charak Samhita, another ancient Ayurvedic text, abyangha in the form of snehana is said to be like a pot smeared with oil and the impurities of vata, pitta, and kapha cannot stick to it. In the same way, if the body is properly oiled with abyangha daily, impurities cannot penetrate and disease cannot develop.
The benefits of Abhyanga to different parts of the body are outlined in the Charaka Samhita as follows:
Abyangha for the head: nourishes the hair, soothes the sense organs, provides for sound sleep, increases cheerfulness and happiness, and can relieve or prevent headaches, premature graying or balding of the hair.
Abyangha for the body: nourishes the body, firms, nourishes and smoothes the skin, particularly beneficial for Vata disturbances, strengthens the body’s tolerance, increases longevity, prevents invasion by Vata, imparts firmness and strength to the limbs (body)
Abyangha for the feet: nourishes the skin, prevents dryness/cracking of the soles of the feet, relieves fatigue and numbness of the feet, provides strength and firmness, pacifies Vata, supports clarity of vision, and improves tone and blood flow.
More benefits of Abhyanga as stated by the ancient Ayurvedic text, Astanga Hridaya:
Depending on your current state of balance and the seasons you can choose the most balancing oil for you.
By Radha Crawley, LMT, Certified Ayurvedic Educator
To learn more about Radha and her work, visit her website: http://www.samadhiayurveda.com/
A beautiful twisting pose named for the great fish Matsyendranath, who overheard the teachings of Yoga by Lord Shiva to Parvati and who after 12 years of contemplation reincarnated as one of the world’s greatest Yogis. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, when Ardha Matsyendrasana is practiced, the life force energy is "channelized" toward the navel center which activates the process of awakening knowledge of the Self.
In the practice of yoga, one can find that twisting aids in clearing out of toxins in the body, which leads to a clearing out of contaminants in the mind. A clarity of mind aids in the evolution of wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment. Working with twisting poses like Ardha Matsyendrasana helps to cultivate the patience and compassion to “see” the past and move into the future with awareness and wisdom. We release our gripping or holding of the past as negative thoughts/stories and toxins and grow into the next new moment with a sense of peace and celebration. The breath creates the rhythm for this patient exploration. Every inhale is an expansive, nourishing rising wave..... and every exhale is an invitation to release and soften into the gentle fall of the next wave.
"Wisdom leavens intelligence, and ennobles consciousness, and advances evolution itself" - Becoming Wise- An Inquiry into the Mystery of Living by Krista Tippet
I would like to share with you what a wonderful journey this training has been for me.
It has been my salvation these past few months, and a metaphor for many parts of my life. Teacher
Training has allowed me to profoundly deepen my practice and self-awareness. I have found that
yoga offers some of the most therapeutic benefits, that are simply not available to me in other
life experiences. The connection between the mind and body in yoga has been incredible. I
hope one day to find a way to weave the practice of yoga into other areas of my world, helping
others to experience some of the wonderful benefits that may unfold when one attends to the
inner experience, perhaps while facing fear or discomfort and moving through it.
Throughout the training, I was faced with challenges in my life and practice, many
aspects of which were not of my choosing, that felt hard and at times insurmountable. Often I
was bitter that I had less time available to commit to my yoga training than I hoped and planned.
There were days when I was convinced that I could not get through what was being asked of
me, both in training and in life in general. There were poses that I felt that I could never master.
Often, upon reflecting, it became clear that these feelings were related less to my yoga practice
and were in fact more of a mirror of other struggles in my life at the time. However, by looking
inward to find strength and focus, I was able to move through these moments, which enabled
me to get to the other side of each pose, practice and hard thing in my life. My yoga training has
enabled me to use this time to bring myself back to center and to find inner peace when faced
I am typically extremely focused on mastering all that I do, to the point that I often lose
myself in working toward producing an outcome, missing the process. Through TT, I continually
reminded myself that this process is not about being perfect or an outcome, but rather about
deepening my practice and knowledge of yoga, so that someday I may be able to help others
experience some of the amazing benefits that it has brought to my life. For me, yoga is a
journey, and one that I intend to continue as long as my body and mind allow. I am joyful that my
training has enabled me to broaden and deepen this path and I am so very thankful to you for all
that you have taught me and challenged me to do throughout the process. I look forward to
continuing this journey, deepening my practice and self discovery, as well as being part of the